Posted June 28, 2013

Grading Celtics-Nets deal for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce

2013 NBA draft, Ben Golliver, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Gerald Wallace, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce
Paul Pierce (left) and Kevin Garnett are headed to Brooklyn.

Paul Pierce (left) and Kevin Garnett are headed to Brooklyn. (Cameron Browne/Getty Images)

The Celtics and Nets agreed to swing a blockbuster deal on draft night that will go official once free agency opens in July. How did each side fare?

Boston Celtics — Grade: B

Outgoing: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry

Incoming: Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, Reggie Evans, Keith Bogans, three first-round picks, player(s) to be named later (UPDATE: MarShon Brooks is reportedly headed to Boston, while Evans is not part of the deal.)

There’s so much going on with this trade from Boston’s side. This is one of the tougher moves to evaluate in recent years because of all those external factors.

Quickly: It’s an excellent send-off to two valued players, Pierce and Garnett, who get to continue playing meaningful basketball at a point in their career where that’s all that matters. It’s a major symbolic shift in approach for a team that has hung on, and hung on, and hung on for two or three years longer than some expected. It’s a gut punch to fans so soon after Doc Rivers’ own emotional departure.

Touchy-feely issues aside, Danny Ainge made a bold play for pure assets in the form of the three first-round picks. The league’s rules preventing consecutive draft picks from getting traded is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the more picks over the next one-to-two years the better for the Celtics, who will likely be really, really bad next season. On the other, stretching out the time frame on the pick transfers opens up the possibility that Brooklyn bottoms out — or at least takes a step back — at some point, making the picks more valuable.

Boil this whole monster trade down and it essentially amounts to Boston’s paying the difference between Wallace’s future salary ($30 million) minus Terry’s future salary ($10 million) for the three first-round picks. That’s pretty expensive, even if we give Ainge some credit for getting Pierce out of town without buying him out or using the amnesty clause. That difference in cost prevents this deal from being a total home run, but Ainge can fix that if he can find a way to flip Humphries’ expiring deal or Wallace — who doesn’t make much sense on a bad, rebuilding roster — at some point (any point!) down the road.

The last key, hidden benefit to mention here is a counterintuitive one: This trade is an efficient way to make Boston really bad next season. Team executives talk all of the time about avoiding the treadmill of mediocrity, and that’s exactly where the Celtics were headed in 2013-14 if they brought back Pierce and Garnett and waited patiently on Rajon Rondo, who is recovering from knee surgery. Much like in 2007, when Boston won just 24 games before the Greg Oden/Kevin Durant draft, this is a good time to be bad. Encouraging Rondo to take his sweet time rehabbing will likely be enough to make a bottom-six record a reality. Should that happen, the Celtics would be in a prime spot to add a franchise-changing building block in what is expected to be a strong 2014 draft. And if they somehow land Andrew Wiggins? It would be worth paying Wallace three times what he’s set to make.

It’s worth noting that this is a “B” with a big TBD attached to it, pending the possibility of a future Wallace deal and/or striking gold in the 2014 lottery.

Keep reading for Brooklyn’s grade.

14 comments
Jay_Matrix
Jay_Matrix

the nets are already aiming at kyle korver

BathazarXavier
BathazarXavier

i don't think you can grade this trade until the end of brooklyn's season next year. if they win a championship it's obviously an A, but if they don't the best you can give them would be a C, especially if they miss out on some top tier talent in next year's draft and/or free agency. are they the yankees of the nba? time, and the next 100 games will tell.

knickfan
knickfan

What? The very same people who critized Allen for abandoning Boston are jumping ship?

PaulSharpe
PaulSharpe

Nonsense article...   To put Brooklyn only a "+" above Boston in this trade is ridiculous...   Those picks are likely going to be mediocre....   Also to say Brooklyn is behind Chicago is beyond stupid...

EasyGoer
EasyGoer

I'm looking forward to next season. The Nets could be in the mix but the standard remains Miami. If Brooklyn is still behind Indiana, the Knicks and Chicago, as this writer seems to think, then this deal is as bad as it gets.

marino.eccher
marino.eccher

"The Nets were clearly on the outside of that group before this agreement, and they likely still trail Indiana and Chicago in that pecking order, but their position is improved."

This is the bottom line, and I don't mean that in a good way. The Nets weren't close to the top of the mountain before the trade and they're not close after it. They're closer, sure, but if this doesn't even get them past the Bulls or Pacers -- and I don't see how it does -- how the heck is it going to get you past Miami? And if you're not getting past Miami, what was the point?

The Nets will be intriguing this year, but they basically doubled down on a pretty flawed core and sacrificed a good chunk of the future to do it. I'd be surprised if the 2018 pick doesn't turn out to be a good one for Boston.

Robert27
Robert27

Can the Celtics amnesty Wallace's contract if they choose to?

JonCBK
JonCBK

The starting lineup is impressive and folks will be surprised at the Nets bench as there is lots of potential there. Not to mention I agree with author that a lot of veterans will see a chance to be with a contender in a major market like New York as very very attractive. 

It will all be about not being greedy in the regular season. Coasting into the 4th seed with rested legs would be a fine finish. Every starter except Deron should be limited to 30 minutes on average, with Pierce and Garnett looking at more like 25 a game, with occasional nights completely off. 

Mark V.1
Mark V.1

That's a pretty formidable starting lineup, with everyone one of them capable of carry the load offensively for stretches.  But when you lean on guys that old, you kind of need a deep bench.  Plus, we have no idea how Kidd will fare as a coach.  The Nets could easily be great or terrible after these moves.

Bwell
Bwell

9 first round picks in the next 4 years. This has the ability to be the NBA version of the Herschel Walker deal.

doghockey
doghockey

@marino.eccher So why play for the future when the franchise has rarely ever had a present that was more than mediocre.  If nothing else, the off season moves will create some excitement about the team and put butts in the seats.  Other than a few elite franchises, most of these teams have to try to find lightning in a bottle when the opportunity arises.

BryanCustard
BryanCustard

@JonCBK they key to this whole thing will be if veterans will come play on minimum deals to fill out the roster. if they do this team could do great things, if they don't they are probably slightly ahead of chicago, but still behind indiana and miami

JonCBK
JonCBK

The roster doesn't need that much more. Terry is backup 1 and 2. Regime Evans is back up four. Tool, who dominated D league is back up three. If Blatche stays for the ring chance since he is getting enough money from Wizards then be is your back up Center. Do you need much more than that?